Francisco Madero

Biographies and Glossary
not quite complete

Felipe Angeles - A capable, intelligent, idealistic, and ambitious career officer with liberal tendencies.  Deeply loyal to Madero; one of the few professional officers to support the Constitutionalist Revolt, 1913; aligned with Villa, Feb.1914-Sep.1915; in exile in US, 1915-1918; returned to aid Villa’s last campaign, 1918-1919; captured by Carranza’s forces, tried and executed by firing squad, Nov.1919, dying with dignity.

Anti-reeleccionista - Maderista party created in 1909 to oppose Díaz’s 1910 reelection.

Bloque Renovador - Liberal Maderista faction in the Mexican Congress, 1912-1913.

Lionel Carden - British Minister to Mexico from 1913.  His anti-American tendencies were not supported by his government.

Venustiano Carranza - Constitutionalist leader; effectively President of Mexico 1914-1920.  Stubborn, authoritarian, highly nationalistic.  From a landowning family, he supported Reyes before he allied with Madero in 1910; named Governor of Coahuila in 1911.  In Feb.1913, he quickly and strongly opposed Huerta’s seizure of power; by Apr, he had made himself the Constitutionalists’ political leader; in spring 1914, he fiercely opposed the US intervention at Veracruz  (though it was aimed at Huerta) and began to try to undermine Villa.  After Huerta’s fall in Jul.1914, he clashed with Villa and Zapata, gaining the upper hand in 1915 with Obregón’s aid.  His resistance to social reform provoked continued unrest.  Carranza was murdered in May.1920 during a revolt of his generals.

Casa del Obrero Mundial - see COM

Manuel Chao - An amiable former schoolteacher and one of the most effective revolutionaries in Chihuahua.  One of the first to rise against Díaz in 1910, loyal to Madero during Orozco’s revolt in 1912, again one of the first to rise against Huerta in 1913.  Governor of Chihuahua in 1914; nearly executed by Villa.  Eventually shot by the Carranza government after one rising too many.

científicos - Conservative civilian technocrats.  Poised to succeed Díaz, they were largely discredited by the decline of the Porfirian economy and the eruption of the revolution.

COM (Casa del Obrero Mundial) - Anarchosyndicalist labor union.  Founded in Sep.1912; soon dominated labor in Mexico City; opposed Huerta in 1914, and Villa and Zapata in 1914-1915.  After much labor turbulence, it was crushed by Carranza in the summer of  1916.

Ramón Corral - Díaz’s unpopular científico vice-president, 1904-1911.  Jettisoned by Díaz in a last-minute attempt to placate the revolutionaries.

Enrique Creel - Porfirian governor of Chihuahua, 1904-1911, member of the powerful Terrazas-Creel family, son-in-law of Luis Terrazas.  Creel’s oppressive regime helped make his state a hotbed of revolutionary activity after 1910.  

Francisco León de la Barra - Conservative interim president between Díaz and Madero, May-Nov, 1911.  His policies helped provoke Zapata’s revolt.

Genevevo de la O - Durable agrarian rebel.  One of the first to revolt in Morelos in 1910; eventually aligned with Zapata.  He survived the Revolution, dominated Morelos for several years afterwards, and lived on until 1952, one of the few individuals in this list to escape violent death or exile.

Félix Díaz - Conservative leader, son of Porfirio.  His Oct.1912 revolt was easily defeated by Madero.  FD helped plan and lead the Tragic Ten Days revolt in Feb.1913, but was squeezed out by Huerta and forced to flee by Oct.1913.

Porfirio Díaz - Dictator for over thirty years prior to the Mexican Revolution.  Of humble origin, he became a hero of the war against the French in the 1860’s, and later proved to be a shrewd and determined politician.  After PD seized control of the government in 1876, he imposed order, enacted reforms, encouraged foreign investment, and began the modernization of Mexico - but most of the wealth that was generated went abroad or to a small Mexican oligarchy.  When the economy faltered in the first years of the 20th Century, the imposing Porfirian system collapsed into revolution.  PD was ousted by Madero in 1911 and died in Paris in 1915.

Belisario Domínguez - Mexican Senator.  A couple weeks after denouncing Huerta in the Senate in Sep.1913, he was murdered by the police, and Huerta soon afterwards suppressed Congress.

Pablo Escandón - Head of a powerful landowning family and Porfirian Governor of Morelos from 1909.  Effete and ineffective, he was overwhelmed by the Maderista revolt of 1910-1911.

Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magón - Early radical opponents to Díaz.  Sons of a liberal Oaxacan landowner; active in the opposition from the 1890’s; increasingly drawn to the extreme left; fled to the US in 1904.  They helped found the far-left PLM in 1905, but harassment and frequent arrests by US authorities made it difficult for them to effectively lead the group.  Although they had become marginalized by the time the revolution erupted in 1910, they remained active in leftist politics for many years.

Federico Gamboa - Huerta’s Foreign Minister.  

Abraham González - Maderista leader in Chihuahua.  Middle-class background; highly courageous and loyal to Madero; strongly opposed to the conservative Terrazas-Creel clan.  Recruited Pancho Villa into the Maderista movement in 1910.  Except for a brief interlude as Madero’s Interior Minister, AG was Governor of Chihuahua during the turbulent period 1911-1913.  Arrested by Huertistas in Feb.1913 and murdered Mar.07 alongside a lonely stretch of railroad track ‘while trying to escape.’

Praxedis Guerrero - Dynamic PLM leader, killed Dec.1910 in the early stages of the Revolution.

William Bayard Hale - American journalist sent by Woodrow Wilson on a fact-finding mission to Mexico in the spring of 1913.  His reports exposed the questionable activities of US Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson and gave President Wilson his first accurate picture of the situation in Mexico.

Victoriano Huerta - Hard-bitten, hard-drinking professional officer; dictator 1913-1914.  Humble background; long and varied military career under Díaz.  His harsh policies in Morelos in late summer set off Zapata’s revolt, and Madero had him sacked in Oct.1911.  Restored to command, Huerta effectively suppressed Orozco’s revolt Apr-late summer.1912, but his seditious comments caused Madero to relieve him again in Oct.  During the right-wing ‘Ten Tragic Days Revolt’ in Feb.1913, Madero unwisely gave him command in the capital; Huerta betrayed and murdered Madero, double-crossed his fellow conservatives, and seized power, which immediately provoked the great Constitutionalist revolt.  He responded with ruthless determination, but the rebel commanders Zapata, Villa, and Obregón were leaders of genius, and with his situation deteriorating, Huerta suppressed Congress in Oct.1913, tried to impose a proto-fascist militarism on Mexican society, and alienated international opinion.  When the US intervened in Veracruz Apr.1914, Huerta shrewdly called for national unity against the invaders, but to no avail.  He resigned and fled in Jul.1914; in 1915 he was arrested in the US and died in prison.

José Ives Limantour - Díaz’s Treasury Minister and chief adviser.  A brilliant scholar; largely responsible for the financial and administrative reforms of the 1890’s that led to the apparent success of the Porfirian state.  But after about 1907 the economy began to sour, and in 1910 Limantour’s system collapsed.  He fell with Díaz in 1911.

John Lind - Unsuccessful special envoy sent by Woodrow Wilson to negotiate with the Huerta regime in August 1913 

Maderista - A follower of Francisco Madero; generally liberal-reformist.

Francisco Madero - Liberal leader.  Small and mild in appearance, but high-minded and fearless.  From a wealthy family in Coahuila, he was prone to underestimate the dangers to his program from his own landowning class.  He became active in reformist politics and ran against Díaz for president in 1909-1910, inspiring public enthusiasm.  The theft of the election drove Madero to revolt in Nov.1910, and by May he had toppled Díaz, but declined to take power until Nov.1911, and even then neglected to tackle serious social reforms.  As a result, Mexico was beset with repeated revolts and unrest.  Just as the situation was easing, a violent conservative revolt erupted in Mexico City in Feb.1913 (The Ten Tragic Days), and he foolishly entrusted command of government forces to the disloyal Huerta.  Huerta arrested Madero and seized power on Feb.18; four days later Madero was murdered.

Gustavo Madero - Francisco Madero’s younger brother and aide.  Beaten to death by the Huertistas on Feb.19.1913.

José María Maytorena - Sonoran politico.  A wealthy landowner, he supported first Reyes and then Madero against Díaz.  Governor of Sonora 1911-1913.  Fled to the US for several months after Huerta seized power in Feb.1913.  Upon his return, JMM feuded with Obregón; he warily allied with Villa but lost a civil war in Sonora 1914-1915.

Alvaro Obregón - Very capable radical leader from Sonora; perhaps the best general of the Mexican Revolution.  A rancher of modest means, he took no part in the Madero revolt of 1910-1911; led local forces against Orozco in 1912; commanded Sonoran state forces against Huerta from Mar.1913, driving the Federals from the northwest and occupying Mexico City in Aug.1914.  He aligned with Carranza, helping him defeat Villa and Zapata in 1914-1915.  Played a major role in the 1917 constitutional convention.  In 1920, Obregón overthrew the despotic Carranza; served as President of Mexico 1920-1924, restoring peace and initiating many reforms; re-elected in 1928, but soon afterwards he was assassinated by a fanatic Catholic.

Pascual Orozco - Ambitious young revolutionary leader from Chihuahua, who sold out to the conservatives.  Middle-class background; a commanding presence; excellent marksman.  Was a successful teamster before the revolution, widely known and popular.  Orozco was the most outstanding leader of the 1910-1911 revolution, but was insubordinate to Madero and alienated Villa.  He became disgruntled and launched a powerful revolt in Mar.1912, which was covertly supported by Chihuahuan landowners; after ominous initial successes, the revolt was crushed during the summer.  He supported the reactionary Huerta in 1913-1914, and fled with him to the US.  After escaping from detention in El Paso, Orozco was gunned down by a Texas posse on Aug.30, 1915.

Orozquistas - Followers of Orozco.  Their allegiance was generally personal rather than political, since Orozco had no consistent ideology.

Plan of Ayala - Zapata’s political manifesto.  First issued Nov.28, 1911, it called for revolutionary land reform and uncompromising resistance to landowners and their minions.  The Plan of Ayala was zealously adhered to by the Zapatistas and inspired other agrarian rebels throughout Mexico.

PLM (Partido Liberal Mexicano) - Formed by the Flores Magón brothers and other exiles in St. Louis in Sep.1905.  Despite its name, the PLM was not liberal but was a radical leftist group dedicated to overthrowing the Díaz regime by force.  It succeeded in organizing a widespread underground network and in launching some small revolts, but repression in Mexico and harassment of its exiled leadership in the US undercut the group’s effectiveness.  By the time the revolution erupted in 1910, the PLM was too weak to play a major role.

Porfirian - Pertaining to Pofirio Díaz

Bernardo Reyes - Conservative leader; Porfirian general and Governor of Nuevo León.  In 1909, challenged  the cientifico faction for the succession to the Díaz dictatorship, setting off anti-Díaz unrest that led to Reyes’ exile.  Returned in Jun.1911 to lead the opposition to Madero; imprisoned in Dec. when an attempted revolt failed.  In prison, helped plot a large-scale right wing rising with Félix Díaz, but was killed at the start of the ‘Tragic Ten Days’ revolt, Feb.09.1913.

Reyista - A follower of Bernardo Reyes.  In 1909-1910, many of Reyes’ supporters simply wanted change, and quite a few of these early Reyistas became revolutionary followers of Madero.  The later Reyistas of 1911-1913 were conservatives opposed to Madero.

Juvencio Robles - Brutal Federal general, who twice commanded government troops in Morelos against Zapata (Feb.-Jun.1912 and Apr-Sep.1913), failing both times

Luis Terrazas - Patriarch of a powerful, conservative, and much-hated landowning family in Chihuahua.  Father-in-law of Enrique Creel.

Pancho Villa - Famous revolutionary leader in Chihuahua.  Energetic, adaptable, violent, callous, ruthless, loyal, and generous, with a natural gift for war leadership.  Born a peasant, Villa was a bandit in his youth, and a tough jack-of-all-trades in the years before the revolution.  Fought for Madero against Díaz in 1910-1911 and against Orozco in 1912.  In the revolt against Huerta in 1913-1914, Villa became the most powerful revolutionary in the north.  In 1914-1915, he allied with Zapata but they were repeatedly defeated by Carranza and Obregón.  In 1916, Villa raided over the US border and managed to evade Pershing’s punitive expedition.  Villa’s power faded in the later years of the revolution.  At the war’s end in 1920 he was pardoned by Obregón, but was murdered in 1923 under mysterious circumstances.

Villista - An adherent of Pancho Villa; generally favoring radical social reform.

Henry Lane Wilson - Conservative American ambassador to Mexico.  Fiercely opposed to Madero, in Feb.1913 he directly assisted in the overthrow of the elected government, brokered a pact between the victorious right-wing rebels, and endorsed Huerta’s murder of Madero - all without informing his own government.  This bizarre performance was exposed by Hale in Jun.1913, and HLW was recalled a month later.

Yaqui Indians - A Sonoran tribe with long-standing grievances.  The revolutionary disorders gave them the opportunity to reclaim lost lands, bringing them into a conflict with the government that lasted until 1929.

Emiliano Zapata - Remarkable guerilla leader in south central Mexico.  Small, quiet, intense, determined; fiercely independent; a superb horseman.  A village chief before the revolution; became the leading Maderista rebel in Morelos from early spring 1911, but was anathema to local landowners; after failing to reach agreement with Madero over land reform, he was provoked into revolt Sep.01, 1911; issued the agrarian revolutionary Plan of Ayala in Nov.1911.  For three years he bested every Federal general that was sent against him, despite often brutal government repression.  After the fall of Huerta, Zapata occupied Mexico City in Nov.1914, allied with Villa against Carranza, and enforced land reform.  But by 1917, he had become isolated by Carranza, and on Apr.10, 1919, he was betrayed and killed in an ambush.

Zapatista - Adherent of Zapata and the Plan of Ayala; agrarian revolutionaries.


Mexican Revolution: Introduction   ///   (1) The Background: 1904-Oct.1910
(2) The Maderista Revolt: Nov.1910-May.1911   ///   (3) The Madero Era I: Jun.1911-Feb.1912
(4) The Madero Era II: Mar.1912-Jan.1913   ///   (5) The Constitutionalist Revolt I: Feb.-May.1913
(6) The Constitutionalist Revolt II: Jun.-Dec.1913   ///   (7) The Constitutionalist Revolt III: Jan.-Jul.1914